Dunno about dunnies

We spent our final day in the Kent Group demolishing a dunnie on Erith Island. We went over on the Strait Lady with a boatload of tools. Naturally, we had a lot of laughs because of the risk we were taking working around poo. I think a dunnie is only an outhouse. I don’t think I could ask for a dunnie in a restaurant but I dunno. (oop)s See what I mean?

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When we got back to Deal, Kim had made a delicious stew and later in the day, we had a lovely barbecue on the jetty and I had a chance to sample muttonbird, abalone and wallaby schnitzle. All were delicious and I can appreciate being able to live off the land and sea. I took my last walk along Barn Hill.

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We had almost as much fun as the night before when we ate outside in the rain. We finally gave in and went back up the hill, the rain stopped the moment we got there. But then the skies blazed red and orange during the sunset.

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The weather cooperated and we had a fairly smooth ride on the boat back to Flinders. We enjoyed our first meal in a restaurant and then, after an interview with ABC radio, flew out the next morning to Launceston.

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We were reminded there are some good things about city life.

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A beautiful ending

We are poised to leave Deal island on the 15th of March. The Parks manager arrived with the new caretakers today and we are officially off duty. And the weather couldn’t be better. It’s warm, like summer. It was calm this morning for their trip out. We’ll see how we fare in two days. We’ve spent the past couple of days cleaning and getting everything in order. Now we’ve moved over to the visitor’s house and are visitors. Yesterday we walked to the lighthouse and had fun looking at our shadows. P3120147.JPG

At the end of the day, I had a home brewed stout, which had a creamy foam.

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Today, I put the work gloves away. It’s official.

Another bush bash

Today we headed up a hill in the middle of the island to look for a cairn reportedly there.. It literally was a bush bash. We walked through shrubs, trees and tussocks. We got to the height of land and couldn’t find a cairn. I kept thinking it might have blown down because we found open spaces with rocks but no pile. We had a nice lunch but were a little discouraged. Before heading back down, I looked around and saw an area a little higher than where we were. There was a panoramic view and we were able to see the lighthouse and both the south and north entrances to Murray Passage. Tim went over there to explore and sure enough, there was another cairn!! Our day was complete.

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This is how the grass was. You can just about make out Tim. We follow wallaby tracks but they hop and we have to plod through the clumps of grass.

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In the company of strangers

We saw Deal Island from a new perspective yesterday. A luxury yacht anchored in the cove the night before and called us and said they wanted to see a little of the island. They didn’t have a lot of time but checked out the museum and Barn Hill, which has some spectacular views of Murray Passage. Then they asked us if we wanted to come with them to Erith Island before they left. You betcha!

It was strange because it was our first time off the island for three months. Sort of a practice run for this weekend. The passage between Erith and Deal Islands is much more open then it seems from up at the caretaker cottage. We got to look back at the island and the compound from the water and then from Erith.

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While we were anchoring, we saw our first sea eagle on the rocks of Erith.

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We walked the tracks to explore the shack and campsites we knew were there. Then on the way back, we were joined by dolphins. P3090145.JPG

When we got back we walked to the lighthouse which was shrouded in fog. Quite a day.

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Was this really summer?

I’ve heard the temperature has been 8 degrees celsius colder than the average summer temperature. I believe it. I only went in the water once and that was when a dinghy dropped us off in water up to our chests. All this beautiful turquoise water and I haven’t been swimming! I’ve worn wool on almost every day of my Tasmanian summer and often several layers. And now it’s fall.

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Last night, there was loud scratching at all the windows. It sounded like a B horror film. I thought I heard someone whispering, “red rum, red rum”. This morning I found dragonflies attached to the house. Naturally, they are huge. The insects and spiders are all supersized here. The bull ants, huntsmen, beetles and dragonflies.

Mild rain was predicted last night. It poured and poured. Tim set buckets around the house while I slept. We recorded 62 mm this morning, which is the most we have had in one day during our stay. Actually it’s more than is recorded for entire months, even the winter ones.

Now we only hope that the sands haven’t washed down onto the jetty road. We thought we would spend our last few days here walking the walks. Instead we may be shoveling the sand, again. Where’s the ibuprofen…and my mittens?

I think I’ll wait until later to look.

All in a day of caretaking

We awakened yesterday to the smell of smoke. Not a good thing when you are trying to protect an island. There wasn’t lightening the night before so we thought if it was here, it would be from an open fire on one of the beaches. So we hopped in the ute and checked Winter Cove, where the campground is (and our recent sign, “No Open Fires”). No smoke or flames. We returned home but then as the day progressed, it got smokier and smokier. We went to the north beach, Garden Cove, where we doubted any boats were anchored because of the wind direction, no smoke or flames. Then we heard on the radio, there was a bush fire in Victoria. The smoke kept getting thicker and thicker here until our view of Erith island was obscured. The fire was 100 miles away but with a wind from the north and the pure air here, we smelled it like it was in our own backyard.

Smoky mountains
Next we were involved in a search and rescue. There was a boat here, which left a few days ago, who asked us to report their position to the local coast guard. They never checked in at their home port. The coast guard called us and asked if we knew anything more. We could only add that they were headed home since we knew they had run out of food and only hope they forget to check in when they arrived.
Then we saw a tinny (metal dinghy) with lines out fishing in Murray Passage. We radioed them and informed them they were in a no take zone and they headed out.
After dinner, we walked down to the new bench to get internet reception, view the stars, which were finally visible again and watch and listen to the fairy penguins come home.
It has been a good caretaking day.

Local lizards, beetles, possums and snakes

I’ve grown fond of the lizard who hangs around the sun room. I can hear the little pitter, patter of his feet as he runs across the linoleum. He no longer resides in my sneaker but I found where he was storing his food stash. He made quick work of a little beetle.

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These beetles give off a strange scent. i thought I was smelling mildew in the house, but Tim figured out it was the beetles that get inside the house. Stinky bugs. Other huge beetles remind us of the “Cluster Flies” from home. In the morning, we find them lying on their backs doing the back stroke to death. They are so large, when they land on their backs, their legs aren’t long enough and can’t give them enough leverage to flip back over. Then I sweep them outdoors.

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This beetle was floundering around the other day. It’s very ornate with a superstructure antenna. Unfortunately, it makes it unstable and top heavy and it also has a hard time flipping over when it lands on its back.

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We watch movies on the computer and have been sitting in the sunroom at night. Since it is surrounded by floor to ceiling windows on three sides, the light shines around the periphery outside. We have learned a possum makes a nightly trek around the house, checks out the barbecue for snacks and heads off.

This is the largest white lipped snake I have seen here. I guess it does have white lips. I stamped my foot and it slithered off into the tussocks. It left the wallaby turd behind.

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Wind in the Willows or Currents in the Casuarinas

There are lots of casaurina or she oak trees around the island, grouped in forests and alone. They serve as a wind break around the living compound

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They also line many of the tracks and occasionally fall over in strong wind. We’ve had three days of gale force winds and Tim found this one downed on the track to Garden Cove.

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We’re not authorized to use power tools, (something about insurance and airlifting fingerless caretakers off Deal Island) except for a hand drill, so we set to work sawing and chopping with a hatchet.

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I had no idea why all boys love playing with hatchets until I tried it myself. I may need to get one for home. We cut it up into draggable pieces and moved it off the track.

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The winds settled down a bit after dinner and we walked up Barn Hill to view the sunset.

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If you want to learn to cook, go some place beautiful where there is no food

I guess it could backfire, but it has worked for me. I’ve enjoyed figuring out what to eat and trying new recipes to expand the menu. The other day, I wanted something different to drink and made a batch of ginger ale. It was a little nerve wracking because it carbonates and makes its fizz in the sealed bottle. If you let it go too long, the bottle explodes. I found myself testing the plastic bottles for fullness a lot. The recipe came from a Google search and worked well.

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My techniques for making bread, yogurt, bagels, pizza and english muffins have been refined and perfected over the past three months. And I have had a good workout to boot. I don’t have any power appliances, so I knead, stir, cream and mix all by hand. Sometimes, I even work up a sweat. How nice if you could burn off the calories before you actually ate the food!

Often, I just look at the provisions and figure out what I have a lot of and need to cook. So I made gnocchi from potatoes; creamy tomato soup, sloppy joes and lots of sauce from tomatoes; oatmeal cookies and scones from oatmeal, chicken curry from the large tin of curry powder; beet soup, carrot cake, semolina pudding, and risotto.

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Things really become interesting and unpredictable when I have to substitute ingredients. The other night, I tried to make an icing from yogurt and thought I would counter the acidity with baking soda like you do when baking. Instead, I had an acid-base reaction in bowl and inedible icing. I tried again without the baking soda and it was fine.

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Now where is that recipe for roast goose?

It’s March 1 and the first day of Fall?

Seasons are strictly by the calendar in Australia. None of this equinox, solstice stuff. Summer ended on February 28 and Fall began today. I’ve made a silent vow to walk a track a day until we leave. These photos are along the creek to Little Squally Cove on the south eastern side of the island.

Little Squally Waterfall Little Squally cairn Little Squally Creek

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Yesterday, I submitted the monthly totals of rainfall to the Bureau of Meteorology. We had 121.6 mm of rain for the month, which is the most rainfall on Deal Island since 1939. We experienced one of the wettest summers in 72 years! And it was wonderful.

Since it’s the first day of Fall, we have cold gale winds. The garden is looking so good. I hope it survives. When the sun comes up, I’ll check and consider setting up barriers around the smaller plants again. Then rinse the sea salt and keep my fingers crossed. We’ll see if I take a walk today.